The Grand Pitons in St. Lucia

This May, plan a fabulous getaway to St. Lucia. (Photo: Getty Images)

Tips + Trends

From Serene Beaches to Vibrant Cities: Where to Travel in May for Every Type of Traveler

Beat the summer travel rush with a mid-spring escape in the Northern Hemisphere. Or head to destinations below the equator to enjoy the autumn air before temperatures drop in winter.

Whether you’re a sports fan or foodie, arts seeker or nature lover, there are plenty of destinations that come alive in May. Use this list of inspiring holiday ideas to start your planning.

As always, check for travel guidelines and closures before planning your trip.

The Arts and Culture Seeker

St. Lucia

From sparkling white sands to deep green forest reserves to azure waters, the colors of St. Lucia dazzle at any time of year. But in May, things get electric thanks to the island’s annual Arts and Jazz Festival, the largest in the Caribbean. Artists from around the world gather at the festival to perform jazz, world beats and fusion music. Headliners from previous years include Rema, Shaggy and Rihanna.

Recover from dancing all night with visits to local artisan markets or a day trip to Sulphur Springs, a volcano that boasts therapeutic hot springs and mud baths.

Detroit, Michigan

Whatever your creative passion, you’ll find something that speaks to you in Detroit. Music lovers won’t want to leave the Motown Museum. The Detroit Institute of Arts Museum is home to the famed “Detroit Industry Murals” by Mexican painter Diego Rivera. And downtown is filled with stunning art deco architecture.

Take advantage of the spring weather by walking or cycling on the city’s expanding trail system and head to Eastern Market, the country’s largest outdoor farmers’ market, for farm-fresh snacks, food trucks and street art.

The Food and Drink Lover

Stellenbosch, South Africa

A man working at a winery near Stellenbosch, South Africa
Add a winery tour to your visit to Stellenbosch, South Africa. (Photo: Getty Images)

May is the thick of autumn in Stellenbosch, which means mild weather, fewer crowds after the summer tourism peak, and the bounty of harvest season.

Enjoy the vibrant wine scene in the Cape Winelands, including the towns of Franschhoek and Paarl, both just 30-minute drives from Stellenbosch. A glass of pinotage, a red blend unique to the country, is a must.

Explore the beauty of nearby Cape Town, too, with stops at stunning Table Mountain, the Camps Bay coastline, and the hip boutiques and galleries in Woodstock.

Vancouver, Canada

With spring’s arrival after a chilly winter in Vancouver, May is the perfect time to explore the city and its dining scene.

Sparked by Michelin’s release of its first Vancouver guide in 2022, the city’s restaurant scene caught fire. Deserving spots on your must-dine list include Okeya Kyujiro, with an approximately 20-course omakase experience; Published on Main, where local produce shines; and Suyo, a Peruvian restaurant known for its exceptional cocktails.

Work up an appetite by walking the Seawall waterfront trail or through sprawling Stanley Park.

The Sports Fan

Paris, France

Aerial view of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France
Paris is oh, so Instagrammable in spring. (Photo: Getty Images)

Paris in the springtime is classic, and for tennis fans, all eyes are on the city in May, when the world’s best battle it out at the French Open. Seeing Roland Garros Stadium’s iconic red clay courts in person is an unforgettable experience, and with 20 courts in play, the early rounds offer incredible access to the players.

Between matches, dine on the city’s Instagrammable terraces for fantastic food and people watching.

Louisville, Kentucky

When you think of Louisville, you might think of bourbon or baseball. But in May, everyone’s mind is on horse racing and the rush of the Kentucky Derby. The Triple Crown race is just two minutes long, but the festivities surrounding it last weeks and include fireworks, concerts and parades.

If you can’t get a seated ticket on race day, don your best seersucker and join the party crowd watching the race from the infield.

The Wellness Buff

Guanacaste, Costa Rica

Rincon de la Vieja National Park in Guanacaste, Costa Rica
A visit to Rincon de la Vieja National Park will leave you feeling rejuvenated. (Photo: Getty Images)

Despite it being the start of the rainy season, May is a fantastic time to visit Costa Rica. Rains usually arrive later in the season, the weather is still tropical and the coastline is quieter thanks to fewer crowds.

Guanacaste province is also home to Costa Rica’s Blue Zone, a region where people live longer due to habits that prioritize rest, exercise and eating well. Enjoy pura vida (the simple life) with visits to Rincon de la Vieja National Park for a soak in thermal hot springs, snorkeling at Flamingo Beach and leisure time on the many pristine beaches.

Tokyo, Japan

For wellness seekers, there’s plenty to explore in and around Tokyo in springtime. Japan is the birthplace of shinrin-yoku, or forest bathing, the practice of spending time among nature. Less than an hour from downtown, Mount Takao’s network of hiking trails is the perfect place to practice it.

For a different type of relaxation, head to Hakone, 90 minutes from the city, to soak in the town’s world-famous onsens, or hot springs. Don’t forget to stock up on snacks for the ride, whether a famous egg salad sandwich or artfully packaged bento box.

The Outdoor Enthusiast

Auckland, New Zealand

Aerial view of Auckland, New Zealand
Pack a rain jacket and get ready to explore Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo: Getty Images)

New Zealand is known for its adrenaline-pumping experiences — bungee jumping, mountain biking and canyoning to name just a few. In Auckland, you can do all of this and more, including indulging in gourmet meals and thriving nightlife.

The Ōmanawanui Track is an epic coastal walk. It’s just under two miles but has a climb of about 1,200 feet — worth it to soak up the incredible views of the Waitakere Ranges. Or head to Piha in west Auckland for rainforest canyoning, including rappelling down waterfalls, leaping into hidden pools and swimming through caves.

Astronomy enthusiasts should also consider hiring a tour guide for star-gazing on Great Barrier Island.

May falls in New Zealand’s shoulder season, which usually means fewer crowds at popular spots. The weather should still be comfortable for sightseeing, even if you experience some rainfall. Just make sure to pack a rain jacket so you can stay comfortable.

Maui, Hawaii

With temperate weather and smaller crowds, May is an ideal time to enjoy the stunning natural beauty of Maui. Hike rainforest trails, explore the rugged volcanic landscapes of Haleakala National Park and watch the sunset from any of the island’s stunning beaches.

Ensure your visit respectfully supports the local community by dining at locally owned restaurants, and consider a Mālama Hawaiʻi experience. The program connects visitors with local communities for volunteer opportunities like guided beach cleanups or trail restoration.

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